Packing of helices: Is chirality the highest crystallographic symmetry?

Romain Gautier*, Kenneth R. Poeppelmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Chiral structures resulting from the packing of helices are common in biological and synthetic materials. Herein, we analyze the noncentrosymmetry (NCS) in such systems using crystallographic considerations. A comparison of the chiral structures built from helices shows that the chirality can be expected for specific building units such as 31/32 or 61/65 helices which, in hexagonal arrangement, will more likely lead to a chiral resolution. In these two systems, we show that the highest crystallographic symmetry (i.e., the symmetry which can describe the crystal structure from the smallest assymetric unit) is chiral. As an illustration, we present the synthesis of two materials ([Zn(2,2'-bpy)3](NbF6)2 and [Zn(2,2'-bpy)3](TaF6)2) in which the 3n helices pack into a chiral structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Chirality
  • Crystallography
  • Helical system
  • Oxide-fluorides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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